Hello, everyone, I want to thank you for taking the time to check out my Dark Robed Saga 10th anniversary special. I can hardly believe that it has been 10 years since I first sat down and started writing Rio Fanfiction. Back in 2011, it all seemed pretty simple. I simply wanted to tell a good story, while also building upon the lore and continuing my favorite animated love story. However, with that, I also had set some ground rules for myself. 1) I wanted to be as creative as possible. 2) Have no limitations on my imagination. 3) Be as original as I possibly could be, and finally 4) If it didn't fit into the Lore and Continuity, find a way to MAKE it work. To do these things, I needed to do some research on the archive. I read hundreds of stories, and decided, while others went in a more light-hearted direction (to the point that they all blended in together: Blu and Jewel are in the aviary, Blu gathers breakfast, give a happy ending, etc) I went in the totally opposite direction. To stand out, I decided to tell a much darker, much more serious story. I created one timeline, one coherent story, told through six parts (while 5 of them were published online, the ending itself never made it to see the light of day). I wanted to tell a grand story with epic villains, each one motivated by a negative, self-destructive trait (vengeance, duality, greed, pain, inner conflict, and power), and a story where the heroes find that true love can overcome any hardship that is thrown their way, even overcoming death itself.
I never could have or would have imagined how such a decision would affect my life, and how that effect would continue on even to this day. I never would have imagined that 10 years later, I would be sitting here, writing this love letter to those who have, will become, or even used to be fans of my work. I never would have imagined that I would still be getting reviews on stories that I wrote in a 3 ring binder while sitting at a campsite. I never could have imagined hearing these people say that these stories would help them through the school day, and how they would read these chapters during their lunch break, or right before bed at night. I never could have imagined that those same people would still be reading and talking about my stories today. I never could have imagined that my stories would inspire a whole new genre in the Rio archive (spanning the Rio the Darkness series from Ricardo the Black Hawk, the artifact series by Riobardenbellaforlife, and many many others), I never would have imagined that writing these stories would bring me some of the best friends that I would ever meet (Ricardo the Black Hawk, McGamemaster90, MW3fan, RioBardenBellaforlife, Aquillaprime, and many many more). All of these things mean the whole world to me. And for that I deeply, deeply, thank all of you. I just wanted to say guys, thank you for an amazing ten years. I hope that we'll have many more years to come.
With all the said, Welcome to Arc 1, which I like to call "Falling in Love.", this has always been a very special story for me. Even though this is the 2nd Rio fanfiction that I ever had done, this is chronologically the first story in my timeline. This was the very first time I had ever told a romantic / action-adventure story, which was quite the challenge to pull off. I had to look into my heart, and create the romantic relationship that I would want in real life. As mentioned above, in my eyes, True Love can overcome all obstacles, even to the point that it could overcome death itself. In this part of the story, Blu and Jewel have just completed their first adventure together (The events of the movie), and have settled back into the Aviary's Breeding Chamber. They aren't quite sure where their lives are heading, and they certainly aren't aware of what their first kiss even meant. Was it nothing? Or could it actually be fate bringing them together? Unfortunately, they don't have time to really figure it out, because a figure from Jewel's past is about to emerge looking for revenge.
So Whether you're reading this for the first time, or have been following me for years. I hope you'll enjoy the adventure. My author notes this time will go into details on my thoughts as I relive some of my early drafts, and notes which I still have within a large 3 ring binder. I'll explain what my thought process was as we go. I'll explain some of the reasoning on why I chose to make certain plot choices, and react to some of the more interesting reviews that I have gotten throughout the years. So, without further delay, let's begin.
Before anyone gets on my case about removing the older 2011 versions of the story. YES, they were removed. I did that for ONE REASON, and that is because in order to celebrate this anniversary (which is important to me), I needed to remove them. It is against site rules to have multiple versions of the same story on the archives and I do not intend to break any rules on this website.
From his vantage point, located directly upon the edge of the plane's small cargo ramp, a lone Spix's Macaw swallowed a large lump that formed deep within the back of his throat. A sharp breeze swept through his feathers, blowing him ever closer towards the open hatch and what would ultimately be his destiny. With a quick shift of his talons, he regained his composure and froze in place. It was not fear that kept him rooted to the spot. He knew what would happen. He knew he would not survive the long plunge to the ocean below. In fact, that thought had never even crossed his mind, let alone scare him.
Instead, what kept him in place was the simple fact that he just did not know how she would react to his sacrifice. He could very well seal his fate and it would all be meaningless to her. His heart skipped a beat. He knew how he felt. He knew he loved her… or at least he thought he did. There certainly was an attraction to her. However, the same could not be said for her. She hated him. He was just a pet… a big nothing… he was simply a bird who could not fly.
As his fear rose, the Macaw could feel his body blowing back against the breeze. It battered him, knocking his breath from his half-open beak. His talons scraped against the gnarled frame, scratching the thin sheet of aluminum, which shined a bright rainbow hue against the morning sunlight. Behind him, the sound of an alarm pierced through the storage compartment. His eyes widened in horror. It would not matter now. Either way, the plane would go down to its watery grave and he would drown. Remaining in the cargo hatch would only delay the eventual plunge, if only for a couple of minutes.
Swallowing a second large lump, he raised a wing and stared out at the horizon. He could still see the city of Rio de Janeiro shimmering beneath the sunrise. The glass windows and cerise-colored buildings filled him with a wonderful sense of peace. He could not remember seeing anything more beautiful. No, he was wrong! There was only one thing more beautiful. The face of the bird he cared for. The love of his life, who had been thrown from the plane during the sudden jerk which had killed both engines. Her horrified scream pierced his heart like a knife. He shuddered and shook his head, blocking out the thoughts which warned him about the obvious fate they both would share.
"You can do this, Blu." He told himself. "No! You MUST do this."
The Spix's Macaw waited no longer. With a single outstretched talon, he walked off the edge and began his free fall to the cold ocean water below. The wind rushed through his wings, pushing him down like a rock. His beak flapped in the wind, while his saliva drifted upward, meeting him in the eye. Blu blinked and he let loose a horrified scream. Not because of the end result which he tried to keep clear from his mind, but because of the distance which still existed between him and the woman he loved. He spread his wings, and with a quick thrust of his tail feathers, his descent increased tenfold. Without wasting a moment, he opened his eyes and grabbed hold of Jewel as he sped past.
Jewel's eyes widened in horror as she realized she rested within his wings, considering she knew for a fact that he could not fly.
"Blu!" she screamed. "What are you doing? You're crazy!"
Blu shook his head and peered into the round sapphire orbs that were her eyes. His smile deepened as he replied calmly.
"I'm not going to let you go. We are chained to each other birds, remember?"
Jewel's eyes widened further as Blu's words rang through her ears. The true meaning behind them struck hard. He did not care about his guaranteed death… he did not care about the fate of their species... he did not care about anything except being with her. No mating expectations, no crazy love-hawk stuff, just him being with her in their last moments together. She contemplated it for a few moments, allowing the true meaning of his words to form in her mind. They didn't stay there long because they found their way to her heart. His selfless actions awakened her spirit. His sacrifice meant the world to her. Though it did very little to change the fact that they were about to meet their end, she could not have picked a better moment to hear his voice. She forced a smile, pulling him into a heartfelt kiss.
Blu pulled his beak away, even though deep down he yearned to continue until the very end. His heart skipped a beat, thumping as it came to life, filling with a pleasant warmth. A renewed energy surged through him, forcing his eyes to open. Everything felt different, even the wind as it swept across the feathery columns of his wings. He did not need to think about anything. His spirit came alive for the first time. Spreading his wings, he skimmed the water and took flight, a fact which remained at a complete loss to him. Not because he didn't care, but because he focused solely on Jewel.
"Blu!" Jewel cried happily, "You're doing it, you're flying!"
"Yeah," Blu nodded, recalling a conversation they had had the previous day. "You were right, I'm not an ostrich. I'm not an ostrich!"
The Spix's Macaw smiled as he flapped his wings. His body arched, spun, and flipped as he soared through the air. His talons tightened around Jewel. He would not let her go again. His chocolate brown eyes peered down at her. He could not remove the smile from his beak. His mind continued to think about the kiss they had shared. She had kissed him, not the other way around. That had made it even more special to him. It meant that somewhere deep down, she really cared about him.
"Are you okay down there?" he asked, peering down at her busted wing. He could see the amount of damage done and knew she needed immediate medical treatment. His eyes narrowed as he continued. "Let me know if you want me to land."
"Keep going, Blu!" Jewel's voice rang out. "Let's head back to Rio."
Blu could not help but grin at Jewel's enthusiasm. He skimmed along the cliffs, barrel rolling as he evaded the many cable cars. Picking up speed with each passing second, and yet she still wanted more. Her voice rang out cheering with excitement towards his every move, laughing louder as she enjoyed every moment of being within his wings. His heart skipped a beat as his eyes peered down at the creature he carried. I think I love her. He thought to himself. His smile widened further as he admitted the truth to himself for the first time. Even if he could not properly put it into words, his thoughts focused on those three words.
"Keep going Blu," she cheered. "Keep going!"
It was a little after dawn by the time Blu had contacted the ground. Exhausted, he breathed a quick sigh of relief as he laid Jewel down upon the warm asphalt belonging to Rio's private airport. The sun beat down overhead, painting the sky a soft rosy mixture of orange and scarlet. The world was set ablaze, illuminating Jewel in a fiery aura. Her body trembled as she lay on the ground, suffering from the worst pain she had ever experienced. Her broken limb twitched as she tried to move it, only to be greeted with a sharp, pulsating pain. She cringed, fighting the urge to cry out in agony.
"Don't move it," Blu said. "You'll only make it worse."
Jewel nodded in understanding and allowed herself to go limp. Her body continued to tremble uncontrollably as she did very little else except for staring into Blu's eyes. His soft chocolate brown eyes remained glued to her.
Within mere moments, Linda, Tulio, and Fernando had appeared upon the scene. Linda gasped, holding her hands up to her mouth as she noticed the injury. Tulio bent down and placed a sturdy hand on the injured limb. Jewel winced in pain as he made contact, which caused him to back away.
"Is she okay?" Linda asked.
"I'm not sure," Tulio admitted. "We'll know more when we get her back to the Treatment Center. Right now, I can only guess if it's a break or sprain. Once we do some x-rays and run some tests, we'll know for sure."
Jewel pulled her head back, frightened, as Tulio reached down to grab her. His voice, however, reassured her.
"It's okay," Blu soothed. "He'll help you; I promise."
Jewel nodded her sweet little head and let the human pick her up. She sighed, watching Blu the whole time. She never removed her eyes from him.
"He's so thoughtful. There is more to him than I thought."
Jewel awakened much earlier that morning. Rolling over onto her side, she winced as her injured wing contacted the ground. Despite the cast, her wing still seemed to bother her. A fact which made her heart sink deep into her chest. She peered around the room, making sure that she was alone before allowing herself to shed a couple of tears.
A horrible pain embraced her heart and threw her deeper into its embrace. She hated feeling this way. Her freedom was gone. Even though Blu had been victorious over Nigel, and had thrown him from the plane, he had still been victorious in taking away her ability to feel joy. She lowered her head and sighed, wiping the tears with her good wing, only to find that the sharp stabbing pain once again coursed through her as she moved. Somehow, moving irritated the damaged limb, which only added to her growing frustration.
"The humans said feeling pain would be normal. They said that pain is a good thing because it is a sign that there is no nerve damage," she admitted, studying her damaged limb. "Still, I wish I could be the way I used to be. How much longer will it be before I can fly again?" Her heart sank deep into her chest. She hung her head low. The raw muscle and nerve tendons twitched as she tried to get up on her talons. "Of course, I mean, IF I can ever fly again."
Breathing inwards, she tried to calm herself down. The fresh air seeped in through the ventilation system, filling her nostrils. The tropical scent of Ipanema flooded through her senses, filling her head with daydreams. She could see the fruit stands and the warm sand as the ocean washed up against the shoreline. She spread her good wing and felt the breeze of the ventilation fan shift through her feather column. It was not as good as naturally coming from nature or from flying as fast as her wings would carry her, but Jewel was more than willing to make the sacrifice so long as the humans kept their word and fixed her wing. Her eyes narrowed as her attention fell onto other matters. She shifted her gaze to the empty nest beside her.
Blu was nowhere to be seen. She paced herself as she walked through the artificial forest.
"Blu?" she called out. "Where are you?"
Silence greeted her as the only response. There was no other source of sound, not even the rippling of the trees, as they remained untouched by any form of breeze. She peered around the room, waiting for the cerulean macaw to pop into view, however; he did not appear. Her heart skipped a beat as she grew more fearful.
"Blu?" she called out again. "This isn't funny. Come on out or you will be sorry. I'm serious. I'll kick your tail until it's blue."
Dropping from the trees like a big round coconut, Blu landed in front of her. Stretching his wings out, he yawned and seated himself. His big chocolate brown eyes almost seemed like they teased her. A wicked smile blanketed his face.
"You called?" he asked, arching a curious eyebrow.
"What were you doing?" She asked, forming a pleasant smile. Her attention drew to the tree, her beak dropped as she studied the distance he had descended from. "You are supposed to fly down, not drop like a rock. You are going to hurt yourself doing that."
Blu shook the dirt, loose grass, and broken branches from his body and nodded. He studied the treetops for a moment and swallowed a large lump in his throat. The drop had not seemed to be so far when he had been up in the sky. However, from the ground, it appeared a much more intimidating feat. He lowered his head and explained his actions.
"I was just looking for breakfast." He admitted, forming a nervous smile. His heart skipped a beat as he waited for Jewel's response.
"You were gathering breakfast?" Jewel echoed, eyeing her stomach as she felt it rumble. Her face went a bright red as she thought about how long it had been since she last ate. Her mouth watered as she thought about all the wonderful tastes that breakfast would provide as she devoured it greedily and guzzled it down without a second thought. She lowered her head and continued. "You know what? That sounds like a wonderful idea."
"Sounded like a wonderful idea," Blu corrected her, peering away as he admitted his own failure. He drummed his beak with a single talon before holding out his wing to reveal a few purple berries plucked from the trees. They oozed a bright red juice, which smelled unappetizing. "I wasn't able to find anything except for these, and I think they're poisonous. The smell alone says that we should avoid them. I'm sorry, I completely failed."
"That's because they usually deliver our food at the front door." She giggled, holding her good wing to her beak. "I thought a pet like you would know that. I prefer the natural method, but it is far better than starving and beggars can't be choosers."
Blu lowered his head and once again avoided eye contact. His smile faded, though deep down he knew she was only joking around with him.
"I am not a pet. I am a companion. There is a big difference."
Jewel cocked her head to one side and let her mischievous smile widen. "No, you're a pet." she teased, shoving him with her good wing. "You are my pet, and I wouldn't trade you for all the mangoes, passion fruit, Brazil nuts, or chewy-chewy cocoa beans in the jungle."
"They have mangoes, passion fruit, Brazil nuts, and chewy-chewy cocoa beans in the jungle?" Blu arched a curious eyebrow. "Where I'm from, they all come in cans. The way nature intended. Of course, however, I would be happy to go to the jungle if it meant being with you."
Jewel's playful smile deepened. "Are you sure, Pet? There are spiders, dirt, and it's nothing like a birdcage."
Blu nodded. "Yeah, I guess it's time to look beyond all of that. It's time to think about saving our species."
Jewel's eyes narrowed into slits of anger. "Oh, so that's your game, eh? What makes you think that I'm even ready for that? We have only just got to know each other."
Blu backed away, remembering his previous encounter with her in this mood. Holding up his wings, he peered back towards the nearest camera.
"I-I-I didn't mean right now… I meant when you heal and are ready. I-I-I don't want to force you into anything."
"Oh, but you were fine bringing it up. You know what? Fine, I was wrong about you. I guess you are like all the other guys." Jewel lowered her head, wandering off into the artificial jungle. "Do NOT follow me, Pet. Leave me alone."
Okay, so now that we have officially cleared Chapter One, I think it's time to give you some of the bonus content which was mentioned above. In order to avoid spoilers for the upcoming chapters, I will be adding my notes at the end of each chapter from this point onward. So, right off the bat, you may have noticed that 50% of the chapter takes place during the climactic ending of the original Rio movie. Many people have wondered why I would choose to do this when they could just go back and watch the movie... well... as you know I am an artist who dedicated my time to writing a darker story. Starting things off with something familiar helps draw you into the world that I was intending to create. It's the security blanket for you readers. This one scene is also the one defining moment for Blu x Jewel. One which they will be looking back on, and the one moment which helps fuel the plot and carry it forward. Those are all important factors when you're transferring a piece of media from one format to another (Video to the written word). Another fun thing was I loved creating the interior thoughts for Blu when it came to this scene. The self-doubt being trashed by confidence, the uncertainty on what he was about to do, the uncertainty on what Jewel would think of him doing this. It was a really fun thing to create.
The second half of the chapter follows the traditional route most Rio authors tend to do, and that was following Jewel's recovery in the treatment center. I felt that although this was very familiar territory, I could add my own original twist to it. That is where the argument came from. Having Blu screw things up and having Jewel storm off, not only created a really good cliff-hanger, but it remained true to the characters. It feels familiar and can be quite dramatic, especially after everything that they've been through together. I wanted to plant a seed of doubt in your mind on whether things would be okay or not. Judging from PM's that I had received back in 2011, and still get even to this day, I am actually surprised to learn that my plan had worked.
See you in Chapter Two: "You're One Lucky Bird" :)